Report Calls for More Health Funding for Marginalized Communities, Systemic Reform

Less than one-third of a representative sample of grantmakers that support health-related issues in the United States have made the needs of underserved communities a top priority, a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy finds.

According to the report, Towards Transformative Change in Health Care: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy (52 pages, PDF), 31 percent of the 880 foundations in the sample devoted at least half their health grant dollars to marginalized communities, including the economically disadvantaged, women and girls, the LGBTQ community, people with HIV/AIDS, people with disabilities, the elderly, immigrants and refugees, crime or abuse victims, and offenders and ex-offenders, while only 4 percent designated at least a quarter of their health grant dollars for systemic change and social justice efforts.

The report also found that of the 363 foundations that awarded an average of at least $1 million a year in domestic health grants from 2007 to 2009, 28 percent dedicated at least half of those grant dollars to benefiting underserved communities, while only 7 percent designated at least a quarter of their grantmaking in support of systemic change and social justice efforts.

Twenty-two grantmakers, or just 4 percent of the overall sample, met both of NCRP's recommended support criteria for marginalized communities and systemic change efforts. They included the California Endowment, the California Wellness Foundation, the Colorado Trust, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, and the Quantum Foundation.

"If improving the health of our nation is important to philanthropy, then we have to focus more on the needs of the most underserved and on making these communities integral participants in systemic reform efforts," said NCRP executive director Aaron Dorfman. "We can't wait for health reform to slowly trickle down, especially given the uncertainty of the current political climate."

"Too Few Foundations Promoting Health Equity Among the Poor and Disadvantaged, Report Says." National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy Press Release 04/05/2011.